On 21 February 2014, Joyeeta Gupta, Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South, launched her new book 'The history of global climate governance' published by Cambridge University Press. She takes you back in time to the 1980's to the present and discusses the evolution of the climate change negotiations at global level.
Sharing the carbon cake
"In order to solve the climate change problem, we need to stabalize the emission of greenhouse gases", argues Joyeeta Gupta. If we want to solve the problem in time, there is a maximum size of the carbon budget that we are trying to share between developed and developing countries. However, as this budget keeps decreasing over time, the stress between developed and developing countries becomes more and more. She argues that the climate change regime was to be solved using the leadership paradigm, which means that rich countries should lead in reducing emissions because they are the biggest polluters. The South follows but with a much quicker speed, they basically leap frog in development. However their right to develop has been increasingly questioned with the passage of time.
Evolution of the climate change debate
Joyeeta Gupta takes the audience through the evolutionary stages of the climate change debate. Before 1990, the focus lay on framing the problem and finding a common agreement. In 1992 The Convention on Climate Change was adopted and the leadership paradigm was articulated. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. In this period, however, the leadership paradigm changed into a conditional leadership paradigm as all countries were waiting for others to take the lead. In 2001 the US withdrew from the Kyoto negotiations and this led other countries to quickly ratify the Protocol. However, the enthusiasm of developed countries to lead diminished especially following the recession. In the meanwhile, income patterns in developing countries are changing. They are for example becoming more pro-active in making statements and putting foward agenda items at the climate change negotiations. The downside is that countries are members of so many coalitions, which leads to more complex negotiation processes due to multiple interests.
The question for the future is: Are we able to trust each other? What will be the norms that will enable us to understand how to share the carbon budget between rich and poor? According to Joyeeta we should all look at what climate change means to our livestyles and convince voters and politicians that climate change is important. Furthermore, industry is only willing to change if governments are able to set long-term targets - that won't happen easily as long as politicians have short-term horizons.
The book can be ordered via the website of the Cambridge University Press or contact Joyeeta Gupta for the online copy.